2013 goes out with a bang rather than a whimper for Doyle!

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The Christmas Racing Festival meetings of 2013 will soon be last years news, but maybe we should just reflect on some of the performances and see what falls from it in our racing by numbers game.

Staged from the 26th to the 29th of December over 3 racecourses at Down Royal, Leopardstown and Limerick, they scheduled 63 races over the 4 days with 13 of them offering Black Type to the winners and placed horses. 6 Grade 1 races were on the cards with Mark Walsh recording his first victory at the highest level in jump racing when winning on the 6 year old Flemensfirth gelding, Defy Logic in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase for Paul Nolan and JP McManus.

These Black Type races are extremely valuable, particularly if a mare can win win. Sean Doyle the Wexford based trainer struck gold for the first time with Theatre Bird in the Grade 3 EBF Mares Hurdle on the 4th day of the festival at Leopardstown. This 5 year old mare had won her point to point in March of this year and had upset a Mullins hot pot at Clonmel earlier this month. Doyle has not had an enjoyable time of late with the racing authorities here in Ireland, but this win proves his ability as a trainer and he is set to continue handling point to pointers for the time being. But in many ways it is good yo out with a bang rather than a whimper!

Emmet Mullins is an important part of the WP Mullins set at Closutton and the young Kilkenny professional jockey scored a couple of big wins at Limerick when taking the Grade 2 Greenmount Chase on the 5/1 chance The Paparazzi Kid a 6 year old by Milan while he also steered the highly talented 5 year old Germany horse, Faugheen to win the Grade 3 Liberty Insurance Hurdle.This horse races in the colours of Mrs Susannah Ricci who saw her silks in the winners enclosure 4 times.

Gigginstown House Stud, had 4 winners over the 4 days with their only Black Type winner coming at Limerick as well when the 16/1 chance Make A Track took the Listed Tim Duggan Memorial Chase under Brian Cawley and trained by Charlie Swan.

In fact JP McManus was the top single owner at these meetings with 6 individual winners, while a selection of Syndicates scored on 7 occasions, probably showing an increased interest in this type of race horse ownership after a decline with the death of the Celtic Tiger!

Barry Connell and Danny Mullins teamed up to win the top Grade 1 Novice Hurdle with the 9/4 chance The Tullow Tank. Trained by Philip Fenton this 5 year old was Connell’s only winner, Fenton did add to his record when the talented amateur Richie Kiely scored on the 4 year old Value at Risk in the last race of the 28 races over the 4 days at the Foxrock track.

Mullins must get the award of the ride of the week, not a winning ride, but a brave effort in third on Our Conor, when refusing to flinch and allow Tony McCoy the run of the Ryanair Hurdle!

That said no one would have beaten Hurricane Fly on the day as the 11/10 chance won his 18th Grade 1 race and the rising 10 year old son of Montjeu never looked better.

JP McManus saw his green and gold colours carried to success 6 times with Carlingford Lough adding a Grade 1 Topaz Chase to his Galway Plate win of 2013. This 7 year old son of Kings Theatre is an unusual one in that he is a second season chaser who had never won over fences till July of this year. This horse has been so well handled by Dungarvan maestro John Kiely!

Over the four days we had 22 winning favourites, with the longest priced winner being, Mazuri Cowboy at 40/1 at Limerick, for Eoin Doyle, Paul Holden and Martin Ferris.

Willie Mullins took 9 of the 63 races on offer with Gordon Elliot striking 6 times, while others of note saw Paul Nolan win on 3 occasions the same number as Charles Byrnes while doubles were had by Charlie Swan, Prunella Dobbs at Limerick and Stuart Crawford at Down Royal.

On the jockey scene, Davy Russell recorded his 1,000th winner when winning on Sea Light, on St Stephens Day, with the same horse winning again 4 days later. Ruby Walsh took the honours with 6 winners, while Bryan Cooper had 4 followed by a commendable effort at Limerick by Mikey Fogarty with 3 winners in total.

The Beeches Stud will have been pleased with Flemensfirths 5 winners, while Kings Theatre had an equal number with 2 of these being Graded winners with Montjeu and Beneficial scoring 4 times, sadly the last 3 stallions mentioned are no longer with us so their stock are now a rare commodity.

In the age game we had 3 three year old winners, 15 four old winners, 15 five year old, 13 six year old winners, 9 seven year old winners, 5 eight year olds ,2 nine year olds and only one 10 year old managed to win!! It does look like a younger horses game!

Completing our Festival Review our amateur jockeys had a good time with 14 races being won by Qualified Riders which saw Steve Crawford, Nina Carberry, David O’Leary, Katie Walsh, Steve Clements, Jane Mangan, Derek O’Connor, JJ Burke, Ambrose McCurtin, Colin Griffin , Richie Kiely and Barry O’Neill all add to their winners on the track.

Thats racing by numbers, have a good 2014!

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What’s on this Week?

20131230-084629.jpgOn the Track:

31st Punchestown, 1st Fairyhouse, Tramore, 3rd Dundalk, 4th Cork, 5th Naas.

 

Point to Points:

5th Shillelagh and District (F), United Hunt (F).

Deegan’s Day at Dromahane as the curtain falls on 2013.

20131229-170123.jpgThe point to point meeting at Dromahane today brought the curtain down on the 2013 racing year with a memorable double for Richard Deegan from St Mullins, Co Carlow. The 22 year old, who works full time at Aidan Fitzgerald’s Cobajay Stables in Borris, Co Carlow was riding the first double of his career and the 9th winner in total in the point to point fields.

Deegan was given the leg up on Forgotten Lady in the opening 4 year old Mares Maiden by his boss Aidan Firzgerald with the Exit To Nowhere finally gaining a winning bracket for her owner Stephen Brolan. This mare had some really good placed form prior to this victory and was a deserved victor.

Deegans double came in the first divide of the 5 and 6 year old mares maiden where the Ashling Daly owned Miss Speedy won. The Rudimentary 6 year old had run creditably at Rockfield in October and built on it here.

Deegan stated afterwards that “Both of these mares had good placed form and it was good to win”.

Deegan obviously loves working with racehorses and his plan is to stay at this for as long as possible. It is young men like this that are the lifeblood of the sport as without their willingness to work and to risk their safety in race riding the sport itself would collapse.

Richard Deegan wasn’t the only man to ride a double at the track as Derek O’Connor, fresh from his Leopardstown bumper win on Silver Concorde for Dermot Weld yesterday also achieved this. O’Connor is in really good form since his return to action from injury with the Galwegian teaming up with Kinsale, Co Cork trainer Robert Tyner for both. The Mountain High 4 year Mount Brandon took the first divide of the Brightwells Bloodstock 4 YO Geldings Maiden while Fanisk Bound a 5 year Old by Moscow Society took the second divide of the 5 and 6 year old mares maiden.

Tyner’s Mount Brandon will very likely be sold following this victory with the same to be said if the winners of the other two divides of the Brightwells race. The 4 year old Germany gelding Free Expression made a pleasing debut for Kevin Power, Denis Prendergast and Terry Ryan, while the Westerner 4 year old Velocity Boy took the third divide for Co Carlow based Owner/Trainer Willie Murphy and Johnny Barry.

Brightwells also sponsored the the 5 YO Geldings Maiden and here Michael Goff made the trip from Co Wexford pay when the Dick Frisby owned Shantou Bob, made a winning debut under Harley Dunne. The second divide went to Mikey O’Connor on the progessive Thehorsechesnut, with the son of Definite Article winning for Co Kilkenny trainer David O’Brien.

These sponsored sales races have become the shop window of the point to point world and offers a real opportunity to sell on.

The Open Lightweight was confined to Novice Riders and this went to the Co Kildare man Barry Browne winning on the 11 year old Aboo Hom gelding Powerful Paddy for the Kiely family. This horse won his first point to point in 2006 and has had “issues” I can only assume since his hurdle win in 2008.

The final race went to the Lombardstown, Co Cork yard of Eugene O’Sullivan where his daughter Maxine booted home Connies Cross to win the Confined 5 year old + Geldings Maiden. Owned by Ger Stack this 6 year old son of Windsor Castle was not winning out of turn and crowned a great year for the 21 year old O’Sullivan.

There is a Hurricane a coming!

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There is a Hurricane a coming! The Leopardstown Christmas Festival comes to a conclusion today with the Ryan Air Hurdle taking centre stage. This Grade 1 event has the best hurdle horses in Ireland clashing over 2 miles at the Foxrock track. With the select five runner field having won 51 career national hunt races between to date they should provide us with a memorable race.

Hourigan and the Job to do it at Limerick.

20131228-081826.jpgIt’s been a pretty strange few days of racing so far with reputations lost, money squandered and yet we still come back for more. Limerick offers a really interesting Grade 3 novice hurdle over 3 miles sponsored by Liberty Insurance. Here Willie Mullins saddles Faugheen, with the unbeaten son of Germany probably on most short lists to win under Emmet Mullins. He has already landed the odds on a number of occasions this season and it might seem slightly daft to oppose him here. He has answered every question asked of him but…. Eoin Griffins Azorian a son of Westener looks capable of stepping up his game here under Mikey Fogarty. But the one I like here is the Michael Hourigan 6 year old The Job Is Right. This son of With Approval has already proven his ability at this level and seems to have progressed since winning at Clonmel in November.

Hourigan at that time mapped out a tilt at the 4 mile National Hunt Chase in March at that stage, but those plans may well have changed now. This horse can stay well and seems to be able to quicken at the closing stages of a stayers race such as this. Hourigan wont have to travel far to the races today and in the week thats in it The Job is Right is taken to upset the favourite and win under Adrian Heskin.

The two big races at Leopardstown look like being difficult to resolve. Solwhit makes the trip from Co Limerick and should win the WoodiesDIY Grade 1 Hurdle for Charles Byrnes, but the small field and the fact that he is making his seasonal debut might just raise a question mark or two.

The Grade 1 Lexus Chase later in the day might be for export, with Paul Nicholls maybe holding the key with Unioniste. There are so many question marks about many of the rest, with Bobs Worth, Sir Des Champs, First Lieutenant, Rubi Ball among them failing to sparkle this year so far. It would be fitting to see Davy Russell move on from his 1,000 winner here on Sir Des Champs, but Unioiste has fewer question marks about him.

Best Options:
Limerick

1.55 The Job Is Right (AP Heskin/Michael Hourigan)

Leopardstown

1.50 Solwhit (P Carberry/C Byrnes)
2.55 Unioniste ( Paul Nicholls/N Scholfield)

Codd and Connell the ones at Limerick and Leopardstown today.

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Looking at the two cards today at Leopardstown and Limerick makes finding a winner more than a little difficult.

It might be worth latching on to letter C today with Jamie Codd at Limerick and Barry Connell at Leopardstown looking like holding a strong chance of having a winner or two.

So these are the options I feel we have for the day and as we have seen following yesterdays exchanges nothing is a certainty.

Best Options:
Leopardstown.

12.20 Elishpour (Danny Mullins/Tony Martin)
12.50 Defining Year (Mark Walsh/ DK Weld)
1.20 Sizing Europe (AE Lynch/Henry De Bromhead)
1.50 The Tullow Tank (Danny Mullins/Philip Fenton)
2.20 Bishopslough (Danny Mullins/Tony Mullins)
2.55 Rich Revival (A Heskins/ Liz Doyle)
3.30 Bosman Rule (PW Mullins/WP Mullins)

Best Options:
Limerick.

12.30 Theos Well (Martin Ferris/ML Winters)
1.05 Renneti (E Mullins/ WP Mullins)
1.35 Evesham Star (Mark Enright/C Byrnes)
2.05 Hurricane Season (NP Madden/ Niall Madden)
2.35 Immediate Response (JJ Codd/WP Mullins)
3.10 Winters Magic (JJ Codd/ JJ Mangan)
3.45 Cloudy Rock (Ciaran Fennessy/Sean O’Brien)

Logic, Kid and Fringe surprise better fancied horses.

20131226-210745.jpgThe Christmas Racing Festival meetings got underway at Down Royal, Leopardstown and Limerick with surprise winners in each of the days highlights at the tracks.

Paul Nolan scored a spectacular double at the Co Dublin track with Defy Logic and King Vuvuzela. Nolan has a nice team of horses in his care at Davidstown in Co Wexford with Defy Logic now very much the stable star.

The Flemensfirth 6 year old, owned by JP McManus has been threatening to land a big pot and he picked today to win one such at 7/2 under Mark Walsh. This horse just needed to keep a little in reserve for the final push to the line and he did so here over 2 miles 1 furlong to take the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase. The chances are that he will renew rivalry again with many of these horses again during the rest of the season.

Nolan gave Bryan Cooper the leg up on King Vuvuzela in Racing Post Handicap Chase over the same distance. This is another son of Flemensfirth and the 6 year old took full advantage of his lightweight to win at 5/1.

Cooper had earlier in the day taken the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle at 9/2 for Dessie Hughes with Guitar Pete. Here the hot favourite Analifet was pulled up but that shouldn’t take detract from the win of the 3 year old Dark Angel gelding.

Down in Limerick Willie Mullins took the highlight as expected but with not with the odds on favourite Felix Yonger. Instead the stables second string, The Paparrazi Kid a 6 year old son of Milan showed a clean pair of heels under Emmet Mullins to win the Grade 2 Greenmount Park Novice Chase at 5/1. This horse obviously enjoyed the underfoot conditions to overturn the odds on Felix Yonger.

The first good Hunter Chase of the season was run at Down Royal with On The Fringe announcing his return to the stage when beating the talented Tammys Hill and Salsify in the Albert Bartlett Hunters Chase. Ridden by Nina Carberry the 8 year old son of Exit to Nowhere was running for the first time since May 2012. It he repeats this display he will be a major force in the Hunter Chase category during the coming months.

Doubles on the day saw Pat Fahy score with Western Boy at 12/1 at Leopardstown confirming his bumper promise in this maiden hurdle, while the Co Carlow based trainer also won with Stack the Deck in the bumper at Limerick at 11/10 under Katie Walsh.

While Gordon Elliot won with Moonshine Lad at Limerick at 2/1 on in addition to saddling Noble Endeavour to win 25/1 at Leopardstown while winning with Roll it Out at Down Royal at 6/1.

Another trainer on the double was Stuart Crawford with Man With Van winning at 6/4 and Twentytwo’s Taken at 6/1 both ridden by his brother Steve.

All in all it was a good day and tomorrow promises more of the same, weather permitting of course, but with a code red weather alert out at present lets hope we can race!

They are off! Cracking racing at Down Royal, Leopardstown and Limerick previewed.

20131224-220040.jpgSo they are finally here, after all that pressure, the fat guy in the red suit has been issued his p45 and we can get down to the serious business of the Christmas Racing Festivals.

Unfortunately that Santa bill still needs to be paid for so we may look somewhere else other than or bank accounts to see if we can create a few pounds.

Racing today at Down Royal, Leopardstown and Limerick maybe provide a chance to make some inroads into that hefty Christmas bill.

The now traditional fixture programme provides every one with a chance of blowing away the cobwebs, kick up their fetlocks and go racing at any one of these three venues. Up till now the weather has been divine with no need to check for reports from the Met Office other than to see how quick the ground might be.

So your checklist for today is. to check if racing is on? Then what is the going like? And thirdly who is running?

Kicking off a preview of todays meeting Down Royal sees a quality entry for the Albert Bartlett Hunters Chase. With 15 declared runners this is the best Hunters Chase this season and sets the mark for the other courses early next year.

Two of last seasons top chasers in this sphere, Salsify and Tammys Hill renew their rivalry here. First and second in this event last year they battled it out for much of the season with a 2-2 scoreline during 2012/13. Salsify is the reigning Foxhunters Champion at Cheltenham and Punchestown with the 8 year old son of Beneficial making his seasonal reappearance under Colman Sweeney. Owned and trained by the family in Castlelyons in Co Cork , he is very much the stable star as they set out on the road to the festivals. Having not raced since a third place in June at Stratford the lack of a race might just tell against him.

Liam Lennons Tammys Hall has no such problem as the 8 year old Tamayaz gelding won at Ballindenisk 25 days ago in the hands of JJ Smyth. From all reports this win in the Open Lightweight was done with consummate ease. So we know that he is fit and well, he wont have to travel very far and that he seems to blossom at this time of year.

What of the rest, I’d list On the Fringe, Joncol and The Last Derby are the ones with the best chances of getting into the mix with the top two.

Joncol is one classy steeplechaser, with the Co Wexford Paul Nolan inmate, a former Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup winner in 2010 having now reverted to the point to point sector. The ground is the key to this horse with the softer the ground conditions the better. Former conditional jockey, Michael Doran has been entrusted with the mount here having transferred back to the amateur ranks and he will be keen to make a bold showing over the 2mile 7furlong trip.

David Christie has been campaigning The Last Derby in the point to point fields all autumn, winning 3 times from his Co Fermanagh stables. The 9 year old Anabaa gelding, a former Listed winner for Eoin Griffin can still raise a gallop and with one of the top jockeys in the amateur ranks Barry O’Neill they are no back number.

Enda Bolger and Nina Carberry can be a lethal combination and their On The Fringe, an 8 year old Exit To Nowhere gelding returns here after a 20 month absence. Whether he can beat all four of these remains to be seen but his Co Limerick handler can often surprise.

Leopardstown

Two Graded races highlight the first day of the four day meeting at the Co Dublin track with the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase having a field of 6. All the talk will be of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh scoring with Champagne Fever. This 6 year old son of Stowaway is a dual Cheltenham Festival winner and has already made an impressive debut over the bigger obstacles at Punchestown.

Tony Martin has a nice horse in the shape of Ted Veale with the 6 year old Revoque gelding more than up to mixing it on the flat, over hurdles and now over fences. Robbie Power takes the mount here and the former County Hurdle winner is more than capable of lowering the fever!

Others of interest to me are Paul Nolans Defy Logic, with the 6 year old Flemensfirth horse having the ability to win a top class race such as this one. While Trifolium a son of Goldneyev has to improve to win here for Davy Russell and Charles Byrnes.

The Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle has a look deja vu about it with Willie Mullins saddling both Analifet and Noble Inn to oppose each other again. The 3 year old Califet filly, Analifet has won on both occasions so far, so we might look elsewhere for dangers. Dessie Hughes has been knocking a nice tune out of Guitar Pete so far with the Dark Angel gelding looking a decent sort after his second at Cheltenham in November. While Gordon Elliott has taken charge of the former French hurdler, Arzembuoy Premier and the dual winner might surprise.

The bumper here is packed with stories and it might be difficult to decipher just which one is true. Lets throw a few names into the mix and spin the wheel. Vedettariart for Willie Mullins looks good as does the Dermot Weld horse Windsor Park , both of them have form as do Fort Smith for Gordon Elliot and All Hell Let Loose for Dessie Hughes. In addition Macbride was well spoken of on his debut at Punchestown on the 17th and his run when third didn’t dampen the enthusiasm.

Limerick

Race goers in the mid west can all travel to Limerick where the highlight on the day sees 9 runners set to face the starter in the Grade 2 2m 3f Greenmount Park Novice Chase.

Willie Mullins has the hot favourite here with the Graham Wylie owned Felix Yonger. This Oscar 7 year old gelding looks like having both the form and the class to see off these 8 rivals. Already a Graded winner over fences beating Defy Logic at Punchestown in 2013 and a Graded hurdle winner at Naas in 2012 all he has to do is jump a clear round and act on the softened going under Paul Townend. If he doesnt who else looks a winner? Strangely enough its from the same yard with Mullins also saddling The Paparrazi Kid here. This Milan 6 year old has a nice piece of win and placed form over fences and has the assistance of Emmet Mullins in the saddle.

One for the Day:

@ Down Royal, Tammys Hall.
@ Leopardstown, Macbride.
@ Limerick, Felix Yonger.

The horses are fed, presents opened, the dinner is ready, so what now?

20131225-080337.jpgIt’s Christmas Day, and the world just keeps on turning. The horses are checked, their feed sorted, anything out of the ordinary is looked at and dealt with.

Soon all the presents will be unwrapped, the dinner eaten and we will cast our eyes towards the 26th on St Stephens Day.With racing in Ireland at Down Royal, Leopardstown and Limerick, will Tammys take that chase again this year, can the Fever burn or will Felix tell us just how good he is?

Across the pond, Kempton is the highlight on the day on their 26th with racing all over the country on Boxing Day. The King George is the race if the day with Cue Card and Al Ferof trying to win it for the first time.

Ruby, Davy, Barry et al will be strutting their stuff either at one or other of the race meetings on offer in Ireland or Britain, I am hoping we wont see Barry Geraghty riding this little horse in the coming days!

Hopefully all our racing will get the all clear tomorrow, my racing preview will be published in the morning, but if you at your wits end today you could spend a little time browsing over the pieces on the website! Have a good one.

What’s on this Week?

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On the Track:

26th Down Royal, Leopardstown,Limerick.
27th Leopardstown, Limerick.
28th Leopardstown, Limerick.
29th Leopardstown, Limerick.

Point to Points:

29th Duhallow (F).